Saturday, September 4, 2010

Pagarkkai kuzhambu - Mala's recipe

If you are a bittergourd liking person, this recipe will interest you. I 'more than like'...can not tip the balance totally to 'love' yet, bittergourds. Sadly, I will be the only one eating them in my household.
Every visit to the greens market, I would pick them and put back. I was tired of this game and started cooking different dishes from blogs I visit even though it was for me and only me.
Then I was reminded that my sister Mala has this recipe which I liked very much. Mail after mail to her went in vain and whenever I visit her in India she would tell me and I would not note on.
Once, when my nephew was home for a break, I sent him a message on Facebook asking him to mail me. He got on it instantly and typed out as his mother dictated the same.

The very day, I had read Usha's Pagakkai Pithla kuzhambu and cooked at my home. Few days on, it was time to try Mala's recipe and today I found time to write a post too.

The recipe calls for a bit of extra coconut, which I reduced while making for myself as I had recovered from jaundice around that period and was on a strict diet. I still follow the diet and cook this with lesser coconut. I relish that low coconut version too. But if you have no issues using coconut and love them, feel free with the generous use in this recipe.

Ingredients: (serves two)
Bittergourd cut and deseeded 1/3rd of a cup
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder 1/4 teaspoon
Asafoetida powder 1/4 teaspoon
Tamarind one small lime size ball
Sambhar powder 1 tablespoon (Use any brand or home made)
Jaggery (powdered) 1 tablespoon
Gingelly oil/ sesame seeds oil 2 table spoons

To be roasted dry or in very little oil and ground to a coarse paste:
Channa dhal 1&1/2 teaspoons
Corriander seeds 1 tablespoon
Cumin seeds 1 teaspoon
Fenugreek seeds 1 teaspoon
Dry red chillis 3 - 4 numbers (adjust as required)
Scraped fresh coconut 1/4 of a whole, medium coconut ( about 1/5ths of a cup)
( I increase the channa dhal and reduce the coconut. It is adjustable either way)

Mustard seeds 2 teaspoons
Dry red chillis 2
Cooking oil 1 teaspoon

Few sprigs curry leaves
Chopped corriander leaves

Always wash the vegetable prior to cutting.
Take the cut bittergourd in a flat plate. Sprinkle some salt and mix the turmeric powder. Squeeze hard on the vegetable so the liquid oozes. Place this plate in a gradient and cover the pieces with another plate so that it is pressing on them.
In a few minutes, the water will drain to the lower part of the gradient. You may choose to discard this water, I cook this along. It makes the dish somewhat bitter.
Soak tamarind in water and extract the pulp. Roast and grind the ingredients listed.
Heat oil in a pan and drop the drained bittergourd slices. Toss in the oil for a few minutes.
Add some water, asafoetida powder and salt. Cook until they are tender.
Add the tamarind pulp and sambhar powder. Cook long enough for the raw taste of tamarind to reduce while simmering.
Put in the powdered jaggery and once it dissolves and blends well add the ground paste and bring to a boil.
As the masala has already been roasted, you may take the kuzhambu off the heat few minutes after it comes to a boil.
Heat cooking oil and add the mustard seeds. Allow to crackle and add the dry red chilli to fry a little in the oil.
Add the tempering to the kuzhambu.
Garnish with the curry leaves and chopped corriander.
Serve with steamed rice. This can be mixed with rice and eaten or had as a side dish too.


  1. Awesome looking bittergourd kuzhambu..

  2. I like bittergourd and I make the same way. Some times instead of red chillies I replace black pepper...


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